Morad Tahbaz, the British-Iranian man held in a Tehran prison, has been released on an electronic tag, the British Foreign Office has confirmed.
He was due to be released in March when Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori were allowed to return to the UK, but was only allowed to return to his mother’s home in Tehran a few days before. he was sent back to Evin Prison.
Tahbaz is a co-founder of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation. In January 2018, Iranian authorities arrested him and eight other PWHF affiliates. He has American as well as British and Iranian citizenships.
In November 2019, the Iranian judiciary sentenced Tahbaz to 10 years in prison for “contacts with the hostile US government”.
It is clear that the government of Oman acted as an intermediary in the release, as it did with the release of Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
An FCO spokesperson said: “The Tahbaz family has confirmed that Morad has been released from Evin prison on leave and is at their home in Tehran.
“Morad is a tri-nationality and we continue to work closely with the United States to urge the Iranian authorities to release him permanently and allow his departure from Iran.”
It is not clear whether there has been an exchange by the US or the UK that led to the easing of its terms. One possibility is that Oman or another foreign power agreed to pay a substantial bail to secure his release.
Tahbaz’s daughter, Roxanne Tahbaz, said her father “should be free” and urged Foreign Secretary Liz Truss to do more. She said in a statement: “I can confirm that my father is on temporary leave in Iran wearing an ankle bracelet.
“I am happy that he can be with my mother, who is also in Iran with a travel ban, and that this leave will allow him to receive the medical care he urgently needs.
“However, the work of the British government is not yet finished. My father is a British national and he and my mother should have been on the run four months ago with Nazanin and Anoosheh.
“They should be free. Home is not in Iran, home is with their children.
“As the Secretary of State campaigns for a pledge of results and delivery to the nation, I hope she will keep her promise to my family and my father and ensure his unconditional release.”
Eilidh Macpherson, Amnesty International UK’s campaign manager for those at risk, said: “This is very encouraging news, but we have been here before and we now have to see the UK press hard for Morad’s full, unconditional release and permission for him to leave Iran. together with his wife Vida.
“When Morad was temporarily released for just 48 hours in March, it was clear that the Iranian authorities were once again playing cruel games with a British citizen for diplomatic gain.
“It goes without saying that Morad should never have been imprisoned in the first place and it remains a matter of great concern that British nationals are arbitrarily detained in this way by the Iranian authorities.”
The UK has already repaid its historic £400m debt to Iran, a move most observers believe was linked to the release of Zaghari-Ratcliffe. Truss refused to accept that there was a direct link, saying the two episodes had nothing to do with each other.
Truss has been criticized for allowing Ashoori and Zaghari-Ratcliffe to be released without securing Tahbaz’s release, but she apparently thought the Iranians were irreconcilable and that Tahbaz would be treated as a person whose future would be negotiated with The United States. Truss said the Iranians had reneged on their promise to release him on leave.